Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer and his Mercer-funded Government Accountability Institute have asked the FEC to grant them the right to dodge accountability by classifying them as a journalistic entity.
In a formal request filed earlier this month, Schweizer's lawyers cited myriad examples of GAI's "journalism" and media appearances in an attempt to dodge FEC disclaimer, disclosure and reporting rules so Schweizer can publish a hit job on 2020 Democrats the same way he did in 2016 on Hillary Clinton. To do this, he's claiming that the GAI is a "journalistic entity."
The argument goes like this: "GAI qualifies for the media or press exception to the Federal Election Campaign Act's (FECA) disclosure, disclaimer and reporting requirements because GAO regularly produces and disseminates news, investigative reports, and books that provide vital news, information and political commentary regarding the operation of the United States government and the services provided by elected and appointed officials to the public." They also have the nerve to claim they are "not owned or controlled by a political party, political committee or candidate," a claim that is true in word but in spirit it's a damn lie.
Here, for example, are the books they've published:
- 2013: Fraud: How the left plans to steal the next election
- 2015: Clinton Cash, which was not reporting, did not contain facts, and was nothing more than a smear job on the Clintons.
- 2015: Extortion: How politicians extract your money, buy votes, and line their own pockets
- 2018: Compromised: How Money and Politics Drive FBI Corruption
- 2018: Secret Empires: How the American political class hides corruption and enriches family and friends
At the time that Clinton Cash was published, I wrote a story about how the book was nothing more than a Swiftboat ad wrapped in hardback without any of the disclosures. Nothing about any book they've written since suggests that we should regard this "Institute" as any kind of legitimate media outlet, any more than one might view the Daily Caller or Glenn Beck's The Blaze as legitimate. They may not be affiliated with any political party, but you can be damn sure they exist to bolster one party over another, and their single reason for existence right now in this moment is to re-elect Trump. Even Fox News' Chris Wallace confronted Schweizer with the fact that he could not tie any Clinton Global Foundation initiative to a pay-for-play scheme by the Clintons no matter how hard he tried. Meanwhile, Trump continues to profit from his presidency, and Schweizer has nothing to say about that.
Even worse, the New York Times legitimized the "Institute" by partnering with them to publish excerpts of Clinton Cash without even doing the basic fact-checking one might expect from the paper of record, choosing instead to publish the lies intact.
Their argument for being exempt from disclosure could apply to just about any website out there. They have a website, Peter Schweizer makes regular media appearances, they publish articles, they publish op-eds, and they have a podcast. They simply neglect the part where they have to admit in public that they are funded by right wing extremists for the sole purpose of electing Republicans. That whole "government accountability" focus is a sham, intended to sound like it means something when it really just is another free market scam intended to keep the oligarchy intact.
The GAI is nothing more than an opposition research shop, as Media Matters said back in 2015. They know it, and they know we know it, which is why they're trying to get the FEC to give them an advisory opinion which would burnish that oppo shop turd into a nice shiny disclosure exemption.
You can read the entire filing below. Let's hope there's a lawyer out there willing to take on this scam and call it what it is.